In previous posts, I’ve reflected on a range of practices by which walkers leave their mark on Offa’s Dyke: sticking erect bird feathers into cracks on stiles and posts along the National Trail.
At Bronygarth yesterday, I noticed a new dimension. In addition to a bird feather stuck into the top of a post beside a stile between a field and a lane on the National Trail, there was, suspended by a lace, a single well-worn walking boot (right foot I think).
Across the lane, in a nearby field, the second had been discarded.
What’s going on here?
Is the feather associated with the boot or are they unrelated?
Many questions remain unanswered…
Were the boots discarded as uncomfortable by a frustrated walker? If so, what did they use to walk onwards to the next Blacks or Millets?
Was one of them then tied to the post by the same person at the same time, or by different people at different times?
Could this be a memorial to a dead walker?
Does it celebrate walking?
Or else was this the makeshift use of an abandoned boot by the feather depositor?
Could the farmer be pointing out the refuse left by walkers by suspending one in a prominent position?
Or is this the first stage of some strange (and uncomfortable) long-distance strip-tease?
Maybe we’ll never know the precise sequence that led to this eerie deposit. However, there are a range of other inscribing and depositing practices along Offa’s Dyke. Someone seems to have taken the trouble, for instance, to balance a mushroom on a fence-post beside the dyke.
Meanwhile, on beech trees along the dyke, there is the occasional graffito.
Whether long-distance walkers or local people, walking footpaths along the dyke rarely yields litter, but occasionally one encounters more evidence than the trail and the stiles…